We simply cannot wait for the new MLB season to start, and we are counting down the days until the very first pitch. If you are like us and love the MLB, then you definitely need to have a read on below, as we take a look at each and every team from the AL Central and analyze their chances for success in this brand new season.
Chicago White Sox
The 2022 Chicago White Sox opened the season as AL Central favorites and a legitimate World Series contender. However, a rash of injuries to key players resulted in an underwhelming .500 season. Manager Tony La Russa stepped down due to health concerns and was replaced by Kansas City Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol. The White Sox failed to defend their 2021 division title with a second-place finish.
Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, and Yasmani Grandal combined to miss 288 games last season for a squad that finished 19th with 686 runs scored. First baseman Andrew Vaughn batted .271 with 17 homers and a team-high 76 RBIs.
While outfielder Gavin Sheets and third baseman Yoan Moncada collected 15 and 12 long balls, respectively. Free-agent outfielder Andrew Benintendi signed a five-year, $75 million contract, and middle infielder Elvis Andrus inked a one-year deal.
Hanser Alberto with a 3-run homer! pic.twitter.com/Tc5arouogn
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 20, 2023
AL Cy Young Award runner-up Dylan Cease headlines a solid starting rotation. Cease posted a 14-8 record with a 2.20 ERA and 227 strikeouts and was rewarded with a one-year, $5.7 million contract.
Former All-Star Lance Lynn (8-7, 3.99) will look to rebound from a poor 2022 campaign, while talented youngsters Lucas Giolito (11-9, 4.90) and Michael Kopech (5-9, 3.54) have high expectations. The White Sox added free-agent Mike Clevinger on a one-year, $12 million deal. Closer Liam Hendricks will be out indefinitely, but southpaw Aaron Bummer possesses elite talent.
Chicago has all the pieces to win a weak AL Central division despite the departure of first baseman Jose Abreu. Robert is a multi-tool player that is oozing with MVP skills, and the pitching staff has the potential to develop into one of the league’s best groups.
The Cleveland Guardians surprised the naysayers in 2022 and boasted the major league’s fifth-ranked pitching staff with a sterling 3.46 ERA. The Guardians claimed their first AL Central crown since 2018 and knocked off the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Series. However, the New York Yankees eliminated Cleveland in five games in the Division Series.
Third baseman Jose Ramirez batted .280 and paced the team with 29 homers and 126 RBIs while playing a team-best 157 games. Middle infielder Andres Jimenez hit .297 with 17 dingers and 20 stolen bases, while outfielder Steven Kwan tallied 19 steals and led the Guardians with a .298 batting mark.
Shortstop Amed Rosario hit .283 and posted a team-high 180 hits, and outfielder Josh Naylor clubbed 20 long balls. Free-agent slugger Josh Bell signed a two-year, $33 million contract after hitting 17 homers and driving in 77 runs last year.
We’re baptizing baseballs today, huh?#CLESpring pic.twitter.com/NMQzg2HO4d
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) March 20, 2023
Cal Quantrill enjoyed a stellar campaign with a 15-5 record and a 3.38 ERA, and former top pick Triston McKenzie posted an 11-11 card with a 2.96 ERA and 190 strikeouts. Right-hander Shane Bieber is the staff ace and went 13-8 with a 2.88 ERA and a team-high 198 strikeouts in 2022. Zach Plesac (3-12, 4.31) and Aaron Civale (5-6, 4.92) will form the backend of the rotation. All-Star closer Emmanuel Clase notched 42 saves a year ago and will anchor a solid bullpen.
The Guardians have a good shot at defending their title in one of baseball’s weakest divisions. The offensive lineup has the potential to become a top-10 unit in regards to scoring runs, and the pitching staff should be even better this season.
The 2022 Detroit Tigers had one of the league’s worst-hitting lineups and regressed significantly after posting 77 wins the previous season. The Tigers finished fourth in the division and failed to make the playoffs for the eighth straight season.
Shortstop Javier Baez led the team with 17 home runs but hit just .238 in his first season in the Motor City. Catcher Eric Haase smacked 14 dingers for a squad that ranked last in the big leagues with 110 homers.
Former top prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson should become more productive this season, while veterans Austin Meadows and Jonathan Schoop will look to provide much-needed pop in the middle of the lineup.
Ring in the first day of spring with us on @BallySportsDET today! pic.twitter.com/Fz1p0YwDCd
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) March 20, 2023
Staff ace Eduardo Rodriguez was a huge disappointment last season after inking a five-year, $77 million deal. The southpaw went 5-5 with a 4.05 ERA while logging 91 innings due to injuries and personal problems.
Another lefty, Matt Boyd, signed a one-year, $10 million contract to return to the Tigers. The 32-year-old played for Detroit from 2015-21. Other projected starters include Michael Lorenzen, Matt Manning, and Spencer Turnbull.
The Tigers are rebuilding and will not be competitive despite playing in a downright-bad AL Central division. Rodriguez and Boyd are solid pitchers when healthy, but Detroit ranked 25th in the majors last year with a .231 team batting average.
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals will open the 2023 season with a bottom-five starting rotation and an offensive lineup that appears to be worse than last year’s squad that ranked 24th with 640 runs. The Royals finished last in the division and have endured seven consecutive losing seasons. Manager Mike Matheny was let go at the end of the season and replaced with Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro.
Catcher Salvador Perez batted .254 and paced the team with 23 home runs, and former top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. struggled defensively but stroked 20 long balls and drove in a team-high 80 runs.
First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino hit .295 with 10 homers in 72 games, while MJ Melendez tallied 18 dingers and collected 62 RBIs. Other notable hitters include third baseman Hunter Dozier and left fielder Edward Olivares.
True friends keep it real. 😂@mjmelendez7 mic’d up at #RoyalsST. pic.twitter.com/qrW7wmJVlz
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) March 20, 2023
Kansas City inked a trio of free-agent pitchers. Veteran hurler Zack Greinke signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal and will anchor a mediocre starting rotation. The 39-year-old posted a 4-9 record last season and compiled a 3.68 ERA over 137 innings.
Ryan Yarbrough went 3-8 with a 4.50 ERA for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Jordan Lyles sported a 4.42 ERA and won a career-high 12 games in 2022 with the Baltimore Orioles. Former New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman recorded nine saves in his final season in the Big Apple.
The Royals are not a very talented team and feature a below-average batting lineup and an even worse pitching staff. Kansas City has not advanced to the postseason since 2015 and will need a miracle to end its playoff drought.
Despite a disappointing 2022 campaign, the Minnesota Twins enjoyed a busy offseason and seem primed to contend for the AL Central crown. The Twins finished third in a weak division and failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season.
Against all odds, free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa re-signed with the franchise after inking deals with the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, which fell through because of his surgically-repaired ankle. Correa batted .291 with 22 homers in 136 games last year.
Leadoff hitter Byron Buxton led the team with 28 long balls, while Jorge Polanco and Jose Miranda smacked 16 and 15 home runs, respectively. Other notable hitters include Max Kepler and free-agent signees Joey Gallo and Christian Vazquez.
Sunday Funday 🤗 pic.twitter.com/7jRJHuYvTm
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) March 19, 2023
The Twins traded the reigning AL batting champion, Luis Arraez, to the Miami Marlins for three players, including right-hander Pablo Lopez. Joe Ryan led the team with 13 wins last season, and Sonny Gray compiled an 8-5 record with a 3.08 ERA. Veteran hurlers Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda round out a good rotation. Projected closer Jhoan Duran notched eight saves last year and will anchor a lackluster bullpen crew.
Minnesota should be in the title hunt in a mediocre division if Correa can remain healthy and the bullpen does not implode. The pitching rotation is solid, but there needs to be more depth behind the starting five.
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